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Restore bookmarks from backup or move them to another computer

Firefox automatically creates backups of your bookmarks and saves the last 15 backups for safekeeping. This article describes how to restore your bookmarks from the automatic backups that Firefox creates, how to save and restore your own bookmark backup files, and how to move your bookmarks to another computer.

Backup and restore

Manual backup

  1. Click the Bookmarks button Bookmarks-29 and select Show All Bookmarks to open the Library window.
  2. In the Library window, click the e3f62ffc25d52f883aa490cc65d71e2d-1252097598-804-1.png Import and Backup button and then select Backup....

    ff17bcklib
  3. In the Bookmarks backup filename window that opens, choose a location to save the file, which is named bookmarks-"date".json by default. The desktop is usually a good spot, but any place that is easy to remember will work.
  4. Save the bookmarks json file. The Bookmarks backup filename window will close and then you can close the Library window.

Restoring from backups

Caution: Restoring bookmarks from a backup will overwrite your current set of bookmarks with the ones in the backup file.
  1. Click the Bookmarks button Bookmarks-29 and select Show All Bookmarks to open the Library window.
  2. In the Library window, click the e3f62ffc25d52f883aa490cc65d71e2d-1252097598-804-1.png Import and Backup button and then select Restore.

    ff17bcklib2
  3. Select the backup from which you want to restore:
    • The dated entries are automatic backups.
    • Choose File... lets you restore from a manual backup (see above).
  4. After choosing a backup, your bookmarks from that file will be restored. Close the Library window.

Moving bookmarks to another computer

Using Firefox Sync

You can use Firefox Sync to move your bookmarks from one computer to another.

Important: Firefox Sync continuously updates itself as you change bookmarks, so it does not provide a true backup service, nor is it intended to be used as one.

Firefox Sync is the best way to keep your bookmarks (and other profile data) synchronized between all of the computers you use. See How do I set up Sync on my computer? for more information and instructions on setting it up.

Using a bookmark backup file

You can also use a bookmark backup file from one computer and restore it on another computer. This is useful if you can't synchronize the two computers' bookmarks using Sync, for some reason.

The bookmark backup file can either be a manual backup (see above) or one of the automatic dated backups located inside the Firefox profile folder named bookmarkbackups folder. Place the bookmark backup file on your transfer media (for example a Flash drive) and copy it to the desktop (or any location) of the other computer. You can then restore the backup from the Firefox Library window, using the Choose File... option, as described in the Restoring from backups section above.

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Comments

See /forums/knowledge-base-articles/705301 for related discussions about this article.

Copied from /forums/contributors/707681 Posted Sept 30. 2011 by Verdi

Hellooooo! and happy Friday afternoon/evening/early Saturday morning,
Earlier today, one of the Sync engineers pointed out that Restore bookmarks from backup or move them to another computer incorrectly stated that you could use Sync to back up your bookmarks. So, we approved his edit that removed all the information about sync from the article.

That said, there is actually some middle ground here that we should distinguish. A backup is meant to be a frozen snapshot that is held for safekeeping. Sync definitely does not provide that service. But, for example, one of the primary use cases of Restore bookmarks from backup or move them to another computer is to move them to another computer rather than back them up for safekeeping. So information about Sync is absolutely important to include in that article as it's the easiest way to move your bookmarks, passwords and history (and soon, add-ons) to another device. We just need to be careful about how it's explained so we don't give people the wrong impression.

For the record:

Revision id: 17591
Created: Sep 30, 2011 1:33:07 PM
Creator: rnewman@mozilla.com
 Reviewed: Yes
 Ready for localization: Yes
 Reviewed: Sep 30, 2011 1:57:28 PM
 Reviewed by: mluna
 Is approved? Yes
 Is current revision? Yes

Posted in /forums/contributors/707681 Sept 30. 2011 by Verdi

one of the primary use cases of Restore bookmarks from backup or move them to another computer is to move them to another computer rather than back them up for safekeeping. So information about Sync is absolutely important to include in that article as it's the easiest way to move your bookmarks, passwords and history (and soon, add-ons) to another device.

This article doesn't mention backing up bookmarks to restore them to another computer but it's not a bad idea (see also /forums/knowledge-base-articles/706547 ). This article is linked from Back up and restore information in Firefox profiles, our article that explains moving your entire profile to another computer. Another article on moving profile data is Recovering important data from an old profile but it doesn't discuss moving data to another computer and only mentions places.sqlite for bookmarks.

Good point, Alice. Rapidly setting up a new machine is certainly one of the areas in which Sync shows off. There are a bunch of caveats, though:

• You won't get all of your history if you have a big profile (only 5,000 items), and your Awesomebar won't be exactly the same (we don't sync everything). • Favicons won't be set up (yet; we aim to land favicon sync around Fx10 or Fx11). • There are a bunch of other things we don't sync: local storage, cookies, a few prefs, tab groups/Panorama, custom dictionaries, certificates, and perhaps more.

That is: for some users, Sync won't be a substitute for a real profile migration.

If a user is planning to migrate to a new machine, it's probably best for them to copy their profile; it guarantees that their data will be preserved intact, and it also increases the likelihood of them making a backup en-route!

If they're planning to use both machines, then Sync is the perfect solution.

Of note, copying a profile and then using both copies is a Bad Thing®: Sync stores some client identifiers in the profile, so this will lead to potential mixups. I thought there was a support article on this, so might be worth a search.

Can't find an article about it, sorry.

By the way: I would be very, very happy to help with technical review of articles that involve Sync, and I'm sure Ibai wants to be kept in the loop, too!

rnewman@mozilla.com said

By the way: I would be very, very happy to help with technical review of articles that involve Sync, and I'm sure Ibai wants to be kept in the loop, too!

I'll post the above in the original thread!

greasemonkey

Good info, thanks all.

I was the one that was initially responsible for that goof, so I fixed it. Sorry about any confusion. I think I fixed it, and found the middle ground that you were going for Alice. I tried to keep the reference to Sync short and within the scope of this article. I welcome feedback, and I will gladly incorporate changes. That said, I hope this is version works for everyone.

greasemonkey said

Good info, thanks all. I was the one that was initially responsible for that goof, so I fixed it. Sorry about any confusion. I think I fixed it, and found the middle ground that you were going for Alice. I tried to keep the reference to Sync short and within the scope of this article. I welcome feedback, and I will gladly incorporate changes. That said, I hope this is version works for everyone.

I think this revision is good and could be approved but I thought I'd offer a few suggestions:

  1. Change the name of the section to something like "How do I move my bookmarks to another computer?" This way it's easier for the user to spot this as the solution they are looking for.
  2. Don't say "backup" in that second sentence.
  3. Link to How do I set up Sync on my computer? because those are the exact instructions you want at this point.

(For the record)

Revision id: 18134
Created: Oct 22, 2011 11:58:26 PM
Creator: greasemonkey
Reviewed: Yes
Ready for localization: No
Reviewed: Nov 16, 2011 4:48:42 PM
Reviewed by: mluna
Is approved? Yes
Is current revision? No 

Current revision: (comment: just replaced backup term with remove for clarity)

Revision id: 18654
Created: Nov 16, 2011 4:49:59 PM
Creator: mluna
Reviewed: Yes
Ready for localization: No
Reviewed: Nov 16, 2011 4:50:20 PM
Reviewed by: mluna
Is approved? Yes
Is current revision? Yes

I added a section on "Using a bookmark backup file" to the "Moving bookmarks to another computer" section, to cover cases where you can't sync the two computers.

Here's an example of a case where someone wants to move bookmarks to a new computer when using Sync is not an option (the person has no access to the old computer, only a saved JSON backup file):

  • https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/921987 I want to import bookmarks (.json) from my old computer BUT i do NOT want to overwrite the existing bookmarks on my new computer. How can I do this? Other solutions simply restore (i.e., overwrite)...

Speaking of which, should this article mention the difference between Import Bookmarks from an HTML file and restoring a bookmark backup? See http://kb.mozillazine.org/Backing_up_and_restoring_bookmarks_-_Firefox

This article was originally named Backing up and restoring bookmarks but it was recently renamed to Back up your bookmarks or move them to another computer. The main point of this article is restoring bookmarks from the list of automatic backups. Creating manual backups is secondary. The section on moving bookmarks to another computer was added later.

If no one objects I'll rename this article "Restore your bookmarks or move them to another computer".

Let's not rename this article yet. We actually have a dizzying array of backup, import, export, move, sort, organize and delete bookmark articles. Nobody can keep them straight. I think it's time to come up with a strategy for them.

I still think this article needs to be renamed now, so that it doesn't slip through the cracks. A strategy for organizing bookmark articles would be easier to develop if the article names better matched the content. The main purpose of this article isn't to help users back up bookmarks, it's to help them restore bookmarks from backup.

Michael, While waiting to develop a "strategy" for organizing bookmark articles, I don't think it would do any harm to rename this article. In fact, by better describing the article content, it would help, as I said earlier.

What about Back up, restore, or move your bookmarks to another computer as a new name for this article, if you want to keep "Back up" in the title?

If I don't get any other feedback, I'll rename this article to the above.

The search summary for this article is:
Learn how to restore your bookmarks from the automatic backups that Firefox creates, save and restore your own backups, and move bookmarks to another computer.

The first paragraph of the article is:
Firefox automatically creates backups of your bookmarks and saves the last ten backups for safekeeping. This article describes how to restore your bookmarks from the automatic backups that Firefox creates, how to save and restore your own bookmark backup files, and how to move your bookmarks to another computer.

So, I renamed this article from "Back up your bookmarks or move them to another computer" to "Restore bookmarks from backup or move them to another computer"

This Firefox article currently shows a "FreeMarker" error, as do other articles in archived locations (see bug 1339484).   Basic Browsing -> Bookmarks and Tabs is currently shown under the Archive heading. This article should not be in an archived location so I'm going to move it. 

 

EDIT: Article moved from  "Archive -> Basic Browsing -> Bookmarks and Tabs"  to "Firefox -> Basic Browsing".